Chilliwack’s Brayden Melnyk played his first junior A hockey game Monday night, making his BCHL debut against his hometown team.
The 2003-born goalie was between the pipes for the Merritt Centennials in a game against the Chilliwack Chiefs, and Melnyk ended up on the wrong end of a 5-3 final at the Chilliwack Coliseum.
The Chiefs fired 32 pucks at the rookie, including 14 in a busy first period. Melnyk made a nice early stop on a Sasha Teleguine fast break, stretching out to get his right leg on his shot as he cut across the goal mouth. He didn’t have much chance on the first goal against as Chilliwack captain Kyle Penney outraced a Merritt defender on a rush down the left wing, cut across the goal mouth and tucked the puck inside the right post.
Melnyk thwarted Chilliwack’s Tanner Andrew on a point blank shot from the slot, but the team in front of him kept bleeding high quality chances.
At the 13:45 mark of period one, Chiefs forward Connor Milburn picked the pocket of Merritt’s Matteo Pecchia in the neutral zone, and led a two-on-one rush the other way. Milburn feathered a pass through to Teleguine, who rifled a shot under the crossbar for his first BCHL goal.
Ethan Bowen gave Chilliwack a 3-0 lead 4:49 into the middle frame, stealing the puck behind the Centennials net, coming out the right side, wheeling and beating Melnyk with a low shot.
Lucas Bourdon, with his first BCHL goal, and Abram Wiebe, with his second, also scored for the Chiefs.
Talon Zakall, with two goals, and Carson Preston also scored for Merritt.
Mathieu Caron stopped 36 of 39 shots in the Chilliwack net.
The three stars were Wiebe (first), Liam Visram (Merritt, second) and Liam Tanner (Chilliwack, third).
– The Chiefs improved to 9-5-0-1, good for 18 points and second spot in the Chilliwack pod behind the Prince George Spruce Kings (9-3-0-1 and 19 points). Merritt fell to 2-11-0-0. The Chiefs host Merritt Thursday and PG Friday to end the April portion of the BCHL pod schedule. Both games are 5 p.m. starts at the Chilliwack Coliseum.